Nashville’s party tours: What are the rules?

Broadway in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When it comes to the rules of the road, many say Nashville party tours have been given the green light.

“There are no rules to be broken right now,” said Freddie O’Connell, part of Nashville’s Metro Council. “It is easily one of the top complaints I’m getting on a regular basis right now.”

So why doesn’t O’Connell do anything about it? Well, because that’s the state’s job.

“Outside of pedal taverns, golf carts, and horse and buggies, the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission has no authority to regulate,” said Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.

Right now, Metro has limited regulatory authority on vehicles on local roads and it’s mostly for smaller vehicles like pedicabs, pedal taverns, and horse-drawn carriages. These are all regulated under Metro’s Transportation Licensing Commission.

Quite frankly, the roadmap is extensive and all of the rules differ, from age requirements, hours of operation, and allotted routes.

“The Transportation Licensing Commission…can pull your permit if you’re a pedal tavern or scooter company that is operating below the performance standards we set…if you’re a party bus you can’t do anything,” said O’Connell.

It really comes down to the type of vehicle. Once you get up to a vehicle that is a certain length, carries a certain number of people, or is towed by another vehicle, like a tractor, Metro can’t do anything.

Nick Lyon, owner of Hell on Wheels party tour says operating his party tour legally is no easy task.

“It’s a very long process to get insurance for these vehicles and it costs a lot of money and so you have to prove to the insurance companies, here’s what we have, here’s what we’re doing, and you have to have CDL and proper licensing and its a lot.”

Lyon added that certain bad actors, some, without safety protocols and training, are making everyone look bad.

“We’re so proud to say we operate the right way,” Lyon said. “We do not mess around with it…we have people in the back and we make sure they don’t break the rules.”

But when it comes to the rules of the road, many remain confused and city leaders want to differentiate between red versus green.

“What we’re experiencing is effectively a race to the bottom as they’re just chasing anyone who gets on one of these vehicles regardless of lack of safety…knowing that there are no consequences, as obnoxious as they want to be,” said O’Connell.

Like the rules, opinions vary.

“We party with a purpose and we’re proud to do what we do the way we do it,” Lyon said, adding that there’s no need for a dead end, but perhaps an alternate route.

There is currently a Senate Bill that was pushed to the side due to COVID-19 that is set to go through the legislative process again in January of 2022.

If passed, it would give cities like Nashville the power to regulate transpotainment vehicles when it comes to safety, hours of operations, and noise levels.

Broadway Out of Bounds
From crime concerns to calls for regulation involving ‘transpotainment’ vehicles – News 2 investigates what’s being done to keep you safe on Broadway. Find more Broadway Out of Bounds special reports here.

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